Mangio italiano

I’ve always been a Spanish speaker when it came to second languages.  I didn’t really even consider French (too impractical here) and my dad pretended to know knew and randomly spoke quite a bit of Spanish while I was growing up.  We traveled in Mexico a few times when I was in school and I LOVED being able to order in Spanish! 

When we started college, Brendan and I were really excited about all of the language offerings at Cal, so we enrolled in Italian I during our first semester.  That was probably the easiest class I took in college because Italian is so similar to Spanish, and I was super excited to be expanding my traveling opportunities.  After my first semester I started trying to take classes that could only be taken at Cal or that would be uniquely intellectual at Cal because I was paying a pretty penny to take language classes that could also be taken a lot cheaper.  I’ve really wanted to take French, so that I could formally learn the pronunciation (and learn how to say foods like clafoutis without sounding super dumb), but I will probably take it later. 

Needless to say I know very little Italian because I only took it for one semester, but I can read it and translate it pretty well because it shares its Latin roots with Spanish. 

I may not speak much Italian, but I do eat quite well in Italian!

Tonight I made Italian Wedding Soup from my Trader Joe’s cookbook!  I adapted it quite a bit, actually, but it is super simple and makes a nice meal.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

Adapted from Cooking with all Things Trader Joe’s

Ingredients:

1 bag frozen turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s

EVOO

1 cup diced onion

1 tsp crushed garlic

1/2 cup halved baby carrots

1 small zucchini (chopped)

1 (32 oz) carton chicken broth

3 cups southern green mix from Trader Joe’s

fresh parsley, chopped

Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil over med-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, carrot, zucchini.  Cook for 5 minutes-ish.  I start cooking before I’m ready (always), so I just add things as they are chopped and ready and add them in.  That means the onions cooked for longer than the garlic.  Whatever.

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Add the chicken broth and meatballs.  If you had time to thaw your meatballs then you are a planner!  Want a medal?  You should chop your meatballs into bite-size pieces/quarters/sixths/you decide.  If they are still frozen because you also go to the grocery store 10 minutes before it is time to make dinner, just empty the bag into the pot.  We will deal with those big boys later. 

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.  If you were in the frozen meatball camp, scoop your meatballs out and chop them up OR tell your boyfriend to suck it up and cut up his own food in his bowl after you serve it.  I scooped and chopped.  I also added a cup of water here because I wanted to (turned out great, felt like I could/should? have added more water).  You can be the judge. 

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Add the greens and let boil for 10 more minutes or wilt that stuff however much you please.  When your boyfriend gets home, ladle out some boiling soup into a bowl, quickly top with chopped Italian parsley and grated cheese and watch as he digs in and burns his whole mouth!  Muah haha…

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Things I am thinking of adding next time: more liquid, cannellini beans, diced tomato, more carrots, more zucchini. 

FYI: the recipe calls for chard or spinach (not the TJ’s crazy pungent blend, but I’ve been wanting to try it, so I did, and it was great…)

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Food photographer of the year goes to…

I served this with sourdough bread and caesar salad.


Webbing on my feet

When it rains in Oregon (365 days a year) everyone says that the true Oregonians don’t use umbrellas.  We are ducks (or beavers) and the webbing on our feet allow us to adapt, grow and thrive in the rain.  That means living, breathing, running and graduating in the rain!

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High School Graduation (2007)

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High School Prom (2007)

I grew up in the rain!  When I moved to Northern California it was still rainy and moist by most people’s standards, but sometimes I missed a good run in the rain.  Don’t get me wrong; I do not like carrying books and final papers in the rain across campus.  But there is something cleansing and refreshing about a good run under a nice morning drizzle. 

During my first year of college in Berkeley everyone pretty much cleared the streets and ran inside during the first big rain of Fall.  So I laced up my running shoes and took advantage of the clean sidewalks for a run.  People looked at me like I was crazy.  I felt like an Oregonian.

Yesterday I was scheduled for a 9 mile run in the morning before I had to go to work at a wedding for the catering company.  It rained all night and I woke up to standing water on the sidewalks and steady rainfall.  I thought,“NO WAY am I going running!”  A few hours later when I only had time for a few miles I laced up my shoes, got my rain gear on and hesitantly walked out the door.  I needed that run.  Less of an Oregonian?  Maybe, but I still have some webbing between my toes… 

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I only ran 4 miles, and I was so bummed that I didn’t have time for more because the rain was fine.  I only saw one runner while I was out, and the joys of running in the rain that day will remain our little secret.  Next time I’ll be quicker to take the plunge!